mec urges community to fight drugs scourge
Mpumalanga's MEC for health has called on people to do more at individual, family and community levels to fight the scourge of drug abuse in the province.
Fish Mahlalela's statement yesterday came as the world observes International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Week.
"It is no secret that abuse of drugs is a prime factor in the occurrence of various crimes and, sadly, also leads to community disintegration and family breakdowns," Mahlalela said.
"We have also witnessed a sad reality that more and more of our youths are initiated into drugs at a very early stage," he said.
He said many youths start with what they call soft drugs - alcohol and cigarettes - and later experimented with hardcore drugs and ruin their lives.
"We therefore need a comprehensive strategy in the fight against drug abuse.
"We need to recognise the impact of alcohol and cigarettes, which are normally acceptable and not considered as drugs, but unfortunately are addictive and lay a foundation for entry into hardcore drugs," said Mahlalela.
"To this end, as a department, we will engage with liquor outlets in the province to sell liquor responsibly and in accordance with the law. We further call for a united action by all stakeholders to fight drugs in our communities."
The MEC said his department supported community organisations providing rehabilitation and awareness services.
"While there is a need for these services, we have noted that perhaps what is important is to be more prevention-orientated rather than treatment after the fact.
"It is against this background that we will in this financial year seek to mobilise communities, including business, to work collectively on prevention of drug abuse.
"We will continue to intensify the 'Ke-Moja' awareness programme, which is aimed at educating our youth in particular to refrain from using drugs.
"In the last financial year, we reached 274000 youth in and out of school, and we will continue to mobilise youth in all areas in the province.
"We will also spend R4,7 million to support non-profit organisations that work in the rehabilitation and treatment of youths affected by drug addiction," Mahlalela said.